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A randomized control trial to compare thoracic epidural with intercostal block plus intravenous morphine infusion for postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing elective thoracotomy.

Research paper by Santhosh S Vilvanathan, Balaji B Kuppuswamy, Raj R Sahajanandan

Indexed on: 11 Apr '20Published on: 11 Apr '20Published in: Annals of cardiac anaesthesia



Abstract

The objective of the study is to compare the efficacy of Thoracic epidural with Intercostal block plus intravenous morphine infusion for postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing elective thoracotomy. This study is designed as a prospective randomized clinical trial. Setting: Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore, India. Patients undergoing elective thoracic surgery through posterolateral thoracotomy. In Group A (TEA) patients epidural catheter was inserted at T5-6 level before induction of GA and analgesia was activated using 0.25% of bupivacaine towards the end of the surgery, before chest closure and infusion of 0.1% bupivacaine with 2 mcg/ml of fentanyl was started. In Group B (ICN) patients, an intercostal blockade of the 5 intercostal spaces was performed by the surgeon just before chest closure using 0.25% bupivacaine and a continuous intravenous morphine infusion of 0.015-0.02 mg/kg/hr was started. Assessment of resting and dynamic pain intensity using Numerical rating scale and sedation using Ramsay sedation scale was done and recorded at 1, 6,12,18,24 hours during the first postoperative day. The other parameters that were measured include side effects and the requirement of rescue analgesia. Results: Resting and Dynamic (NRS) pain scores were less in Group A (TEA) than Group B (ICN). In the first 12 hours, the differences in both the resting (P = 0.0505) and dynamic (P = 0.0307) pain scores were statistically significant. By the end of the first postoperative day, sedation scores were more or less similar in both groups. The incidence of side effects and requirement of rescue analgesia were found to be similar in both the groups. To summarize, though the results show a slightly better quality of analgesia with the thoracic epidural, the difference being clinically insignificant intercostal blockade could be considered as a valid alternative.